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NCJ Number: 164666 Find in a Library
Title: Quantifying Law in Police-Citizen Encounters
Journal: Journal of Quantitative Criminology  Volume:12  Issue:4  Dated:(December 1996)  Pages:391-415
Author(s): D A Klinger
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 25
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Because the way researchers have traditionally measured police action limits their capacity to test legal theories and shed light on determinants of law at the initial stage of the criminal justice process, this paper describes extant police action measures and their limitations, offers a new measure that taps variation in the amount of law police officers use in citizen encounters, and discusses the implications of the new measure for legal research.
Abstract: The paper attempts to narrow the gap between sociological theory and observational police research. Following a brief review and discussion of alternatives to the arrest/no arrest dichotomy, the author presents a conceptual scheme rooted in the notion that whenever police officers interact with citizens the formal authority of law is mobilized in social life. Referred to as the Formal Authority Scale, the scheme provides a basis for operationalizing variability in the amount of law police officers apply in encounters with citizens, an operationalization that is then used to analyze the effects of several factors identified in previous research as possible predictors of police behavior. Regression procedures show that modeling the Formal Authority Scale yields more information about how the use of law by police officers varies than does modeling the arrest/no arrest measure. Directions for future work to narrow the gap between quantitative legal theory and observational studies of the police are noted, and additional information on measures of police action is appended. 38 references and 4 tables
Main Term(s): Police legal limitations
Index Term(s): Arrest procedures; Police community relations; Police policies and procedures; Police research; Police statistics
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